Derek B. Miller: Utah's Economic Development Workhorse

Most Utahns will instantly recognize company names like eBay, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Hershey, Oracle, Proctor & Gamble, and Adobe. One name Utahns may not recognize immediately is EDCUtah, but what they need to know is this organization is responsible for bringing these private sector powerhouses to our state.

The Economic Development Corporation of Utah (EDCUtah) is not just recruiting great companies to Utah. CEO Jeff Edwards and his team have helped hundreds of Utah homegrown companies around the state expand and become more successful. Utah companies like Black Diamond, MarketStar, Young Living, EMC and many more have benefited from the expertise and advocacy of EDCUtah.

This effort means more jobs for more Utahns. At the depths of the Great Recession, Gov. Gary Herbert set a goal to accelerate private sector job growth by 100,000 jobs in 1,000 days. This target wasn’t selected randomly but was based on data from the Department of Workforce Services of the number of Utahns actively looking for a job but unable to find one. The goal of 100,000 jobs was met before the deadline and then doubled to more than 200,000 jobs created since 2010. EDCUtah’s role in accomplishing this goal cannot be overstated. In fact, in the past three years alone the companies EDCUtah has both recruited and retained in Utah translates into an estimated 30,000 jobs and $2.5 billion in capital investment. No wonder Utah’s economy is the envy of the nation.

EDCUtah facilitates job creation in two important ways. First, EDCUtah plays the lead role in recruiting new businesses to the state by proactively reaching out to companies that present a good fit for Utah’s overall economy, targeted industries and educated workforce. Second, Edward’s team works closely with site selectors — consultants who advise corporations on their relocation and expansion options. You can bet that no company makes important location decisions on a whim. Rather, EDCUtah provides detailed research that answers these companies’ questions about workforce, the cost of doing business, energy costs, transportation, access to markets and quality of life.

This research and analysis are fundamental to corporate location decision-making, but the warm handshakes and personal connections are critical as well. The EDCUtah team act as ambassadors for the state and its citizens, and no one is better at making that important first impression.

Utah is recognized nationally as the best state for business and boasts the hottest economy. The accolades are many, including No. 1 best economic outlook, No. 2 in income growth, No. 2 in America’s Next Boomtowns, No. 4 strongest state, No. 1 most fundamentally sound state, No. 1 most dynamic economy, and on and on. It’s a true tragedy of riches, which makes Utah stand in stark contrast to what is happening economically around the nation and the world.

We would do well to remember these accomplishments don’t happen by accident or even by coincidence any more than you step into your backyard once a year and magically reap the harvest of an accidental garden. Becoming the No. 1 economy takes hard work and it takes teamwork. Economic development is truly a team sport, and every winning team needs a workhorse; the teammate that shows up early to every practice and stays late; the teammate who makes everyone else on the team better; the teammate who is completely dedicated to winning; the teammate who is the first to give it all and the last to take credit. EDCUtah is that kind of teammate, and Utah is winning because of its hard work.

Derek B. Miller is the president and CEO of the World Trade Center Utah. Previously he was chief of staff to Gov. Gary Herbert (R-Utah) and managing director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

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Deseret News Tue, 05/24/2016 - 12:10